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ESRB, CTIA Teaming Up For Mobile App, Game Rating System
ESRB, CTIA Teaming Up For Mobile App, Game Rating System
November 21, 2011 | By Kyle Orland

The ESRB is teaming up with the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association trade group to create a standardized rating system for mobile apps and games.

The groups teased the existence of the new new ratings system, which will be "based on age-appropriateness of their content and context," ahead of an official announcement event taking place next Tuesday in Washington, DC.

There is currently no unified standard for content-based ratings across mobile platforms. Since 2009's iOS 3.0 update, Apple has rated content on its App Store on a scale from 4+ (containing no objectionable material) to 17+ (purchase limited to adults).

Developers can set their own labels for apps on Google's Android Market, indicating they're appropriate for Everyone or those with Low, Medium or High Maturity.

Since its creation in 1994, the industry-backed ESRB has rated over 21,000 console and PC games released in the United States. In April, the group introduced an automated system to aid in rating the high number of digitally distributed console games.

Australia's Classification Board began mulling the addition of mobile games to its purview back in 2009, but just last month decided against requiring ratings for mobile content.

In July, Korea's Game Ratings Board relaxed a requirement that all mobile games receive a rating from the organization. Apple and Google had shut down the localized version of their App Stores to protest the requirement.

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Sherman Luong
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Does this means we have to pay the fee for the ratings like the console versions?

Kyle Orland
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That remains to be seen, and will likely be revealed next Tuesday.

Kevin Reilly
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ESRB ratings are required by the console manufacturers and retailers. It is not certain Apple will implement the same requirement or stick with its own unknown rules for publishing Apps. Having an independent 3rd party rate system for apps is not an inherently bad thing as it was one of the reasons the industry defeated the violent video game laws passed in multiple states.

Eric Kinkead
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That sounds like it will create a log jam.

E Zachary Knight
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That really depends. If it is prohibitively expensive or requires the use or requires a human reviewer, yes it could be a problem. However if it uses the automated process they introduced, is optional and cheap, then I don't see a problem with it.

Randy Angle
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Either do the ESRB for all software (not just games) - downloadable, web, MMO, Facebook, mobile, handheld, console and charge a minimal service fee (<$99) and make it work in every country or kill the whole thing because it is broken and does not work.

For example what to they do about "rating varies when played online"? Since most games are played online these days.

Last I heard, mobile was over 500,000 apps with over 37% of those being games. 185,000 games is more than ESRB has seen in its lifetime.

Just drop it!

E Zachary Knight
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Can I ask you how the ESRB "doesn't work"? I mean, it really isn't that difficult to put assign a rating and put it on the box. What else are they supposed to do?

Felipe Budinich
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PEGI I wouldn't mind. ESRB? Seriously?